Severe storm threat ends, but flooding issues persist in Triangle

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We are seeing a little bit of everything on Monday — heavy rain, severe weather and even a little snow. The greatest threat is heavy rain and flash flooding during the first half of the day.

What to know

  • Orange, Chapel-Hill Carrboro and Franklin schools have canceled classes Monday. There will be no remote learning. See all closings and delays.
  • The Triangle is under a flash flood warning until 3 p.m. See all warnings.
  • The biggest threat on Monday will be flash flooding on roads before noon.
  • Wind gusts up to 45 to 50 mph are possible through mid-afternoon. A wind advisory is in effect for the viewing area until 4 p.m.
  • Snow is most likely north of Durham before noon. It has the potential to stick to elevated surfaces, especially in N.C. counties along the Virginia line.
  • More than 180,000 power outages were reported across North Carolina as of 8:15 a.m. There were north of 8,000 outages in Wake and Orange counties alone.

Most recent updates

9:30 a.m.: The Parkside townhome complex off Noble Road in Raleigh, close to Five Points, is flooded from Crabtree Creek, which WRAL reporter Amanda Lamb reports rose 7 feet in one hour.

Large trees fell in Garner and in Selma, and Hillsborough closed Gold Park due to flooding, downed trees and power lines.

9:00 a.m.: Chapel Hill saw some of the worst flooding during this morning’s storms. The Rainbow Soccer Complex soccer field and parking lot became flooded during the heavy rain, and the Chapel Hill Police Department posted photos of flooding in Camelot Village off Estes Drive.

8:45 a.m.: A spokesperson from Duke Energy estimated around 25,000 customers are without power around the Triangle and about 160,000 customers across the state. Officials also said around two-third of the outages follow the Interstate 40 line across the state. For many people, it could be this afternoon before repairs are made.

8:30 a.m.: A wintry mix is falling in northwest Person County.

8:15 a.m.: We’ll be watching for snow showers soon, but the snow will melt on contact due to recent warmth and ground temperatures not being cold enough. The good news is the rain is beginning to wane off and road conditions should improve.

“Because the rain is starting to taper off a little bit, the time is limited where we’re going to see all this flooding on the roads,” WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said. “We really encourage you, if you don’t have to be out there, give it until 10 or 11 o’ clock this morning and a lot of that water will be receding off the roads.”

8:00 a.m.: More than 3 inches of rain have fallen in some areas in only a matter of hours, and the threat for flash flooding continues. WRAL has received reports of downed trees.

WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said the majority of the strong storms should be mainly over by 9 a.m. At that point, rain could switch over to snow in some areas, and temperatures will continue to fall throughout the day.

On Haywood Road in Raleigh, just southeast of downtown, a car became stuck in standing water where the street is low-lying. This is one of many reports of stranded cars in the Triangle.

7:30 a.m.: Due to the severe weather, Wake County Public Health won’t open its five COVID-19 testing sites until at least 9:30 a.m. According to a Wake County spokesperson, the state-operated sites at PNC Arena and the Word of God Church are also impacted due to the weather.

7:20 a.m.: Students at Green Hope High School in Cary are sitting in the cafeteria in the dark after the school lost power. WRAL News is also receiving reports of power outages at Athens Drive High School and Enloe. A severe thunderstorm warning for the Triangle and Cumberland County has been extended.

7:15 a.m.: Crabtree Creek is flooding the area behind Crabtree Valley mall, an area known to flood during major rain events. As severe weather moves across Wake County, as many as 8,000 customers are without power.

7:00 a.m.: A severe thunderstorm warning is in effect for Chatham, Cumberland, Durham, Halifax, Harnett, Johnston, Lee, Sampson and Wake counties until 8:15 a.m. In these areas, heavy rain, wind damage and severe storms with lightning are possible.

6:45 a.m.: Several lanes of I-440 in Raleigh are closed as first responders help a driver in a car that was swept up in floodwaters. The heavy rain is causing issues for the morning commute throughout the area.

6:15 a.m.: Chapel Hill police are reporting standing water in several areas, including Raleigh Road at Fordham Blvd, Raleigh Road at Old Mason Farm Road, Umstead Road between Pritchard Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and Cleland Drive at Oakwood Drive.

There were reports of more standing water on Interstate 440 in Raleigh between Six Forks Road and Glenwood Avenue. At least two lanes were completely flooded with water, WRAL Brett Knese reported.

6:00 a.m.: Thousands of customers are without power across the Triangle. An estimated 8,000 customers in Orange County, 4,000 in Wake County and 2,000 in Durham County were without power as sheets of rain and heavy winds moved across the area.

Flooding the greatest risk

Heavy rain and flooding will the biggest threat for everyone, WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said. The entire viewing area is at risk for flooding, and a flash flood warning is in effect for the Triangle until 7:45 a.m., which includes Chatham, Durham, Franklin, Granville, Lee, Orange, and Wake counties.

A flood watch is in effect until 10 a.m. for the entire viewing area.

“We’re seeing a rapidly changing situation,” Gardner said. “But the biggest thing you need to know today is that we’re going to see a lot of rain. The big thing is going to be watching the roads for how much water will be on them.”

Flood watch: Monday, Jan. 3, 2022

Flash flooding will be possible during the morning commute and throughout the first half of the day, so drivers should pay careful attention. Around 2 to 3 inches of rain could fall before noon.

With the rain could come severe storms, particularly southeast of the Triangle.

According to WRAL meteorologist Peta Sheerwood, the chance for severe weather is greatest before 8 a.m., with the biggest threat being strong storms and gusty winds, which could work with the saturated ground to bring down trees.

An isolated tornado is not out of the question, Gardner said, but it is by no means the biggest threat.

Winds could gust as high as 45 mph across the viewing area at times.

The severe weather threat should end in the early to mid-afternoon.

What about snow?

The final and most exciting weather event meteorologists are tracking Monday is snow, and the farther north you live, the more likely you are to see it.

A winter weather advisory has been issued for three counties: Person, Granville and Mecklenburg, Va., where between 1 and 2 inches of snow could fall, primarily sticking to grassy and elevated surfaces like bridges.

Where snow is most likely

Rain could change over to snow in those northern counties close to the Virginia line around 7 a.m. and in Raleigh by 10 a.m. In the Triangle, temperatures won’t be cold enough, so the snow will have a lot of trouble sticking, Sheerwood said, adding that it will mainly be something beautiful to look at.

“Around here, we struggle to see the cold air keep up with the precipitation,” Gardner said. “Even if we do change over to snow as far south as the Triangle area, none of that is going to cause problems on the road. The areas we could see [light accumulation] are north of Durham, where the snow would fall for longer and have the potential to overcome the warm ground by piling up faster.”

Temperatures, which were in the upper 50s at 4 a.m., will drop throughout the day, into the upper 30s and low 40s by the late morning and all afternoon. The wind chill that will be accompanying those cold temperatures will be bitter.

Flood watch: Monday, Jan. 3, 2022

By 6 a.m., Roxboro could be at 31 degrees, and Durham could be at 36 degrees.

Orange County Schools is closing all buildings and programs Monday due to the threat for severe weather. There will be no in-person instruction or remote learning.